“The Plane, The Plane!”

Further to Friday’s post about the Teledyne Titan:

I have just received word from Mission Control that they have dispatched a replacement derailleur pulley:

They must have received the desperate message I sent through my top-secret communication device:

In the meantime, I will continue to place an inordinate amount of faith in my state-of-the-art safety gear:

Speaking of the Teledyne, it is, as I mentioned, quite flexy, so I have been reading up on noted tire salesman and fork rake enthusiast Jan Heine’s theory of “planing:”

Frame flex acts like a spring. Finite element analysis models (above) have shown that almost all energy that you input into the frame as flex gets returned into the drivetrain, powering the bike. (Very little is lost to hysteresis – bike frames don’t get hot as they flex.)
This stored energy is released when the pedal stroke approaches the dead spots. The right type of frame flex thus prolongs your power stroke, allowing you to put more power into the bike without having to accelerate it more.

In other sports, it is not a new idea to use flex to store energy and then releasing it in a beneficial manner. Pole vaulters use this phenomenon, and so did native American hunters with their atlatls. (Atlatls are sticks that throw darts with such force that they could pierce the Spaniards metal armour.) Jump-roping on a sprung gym floor is less fatiguing than it is on concrete.

For years we were told that sporting bicycle frames were supposed to be “laterally stiff yet vertically compliant,” but of course the idea of “planing” flies in the face of that like…, well, a dart from an atlatl? I never heard of an atlatl, so I went straight to YouTube, and it’s pretty cool. Simple yet effective, it’s sort of the friction shifter of projectile launchers:

Basically, the way it worked was that they’d hit their pray with a dart, and then they’d follow it around in a golf cart until it finally died:

Anyway, it’s only a matter of time before some bike company markets a frame called the Atlatl by way of suggesting that it “planes,” and then it’s only a matter of slightly more time before that bike company is #cancelled for cultural insensitivity.

It’s also only a matter of time before some bike company known for ironic naming conventions–*ahem Surly ahem*–dubs one of their new models the “Golf Cart.” I can see it now:

The new Surly Golf Cart accepts 26″, 650b, or 700C wheels, tires up to 5 inches wide, and features dropouts compatible with every bicycle wheel axle configuration ever devised or that ever will be devised in perpetuity.

Please don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Surly fan–you never know when you’re going to need a bar bike you can ride across a tundra–but you’ve got to admit those dropouts are downright bewildering:

And of course golf knickers for gravel grinding is simply a no-brainer:

They’re the new flannel.

Anyway, so yes, “planing.” I’m willing to buy into the concept since I’ve certainly found some bikes seem “snappier” than others and overall it seems to make sense. However, given how downright flexy it is, I’m still trying to figure out where the Teledyne fits on the “planing” spectrum. Like, I can’t decide if it’s a veritable human slingshot:

Or if it’s just absorbing all my energy like the pocket of a baseball mitt.

Either way, after riding the Teledyne, I did a couple rides on the Litespeed, then this morning I headed out on the Rivendell:

I don’t know if this bike “planes” per se; I think when you’re talking about Rivendells the preferred term is “biplane:”

But if you’d like a scientific breakdown of how it performs I can say with complete confidence that it’s comfortable as fuck. Also, both the Teledyne and the Rivendell are equipped with friction shifters, but the difference between shifting the two is like tuning in one of those old-timey radios versus the ones you’ll find in a late model Hyundai.

And finally, speaking of shifting, a reader recently forwarded this Lennard Zinn column which features an anecdote about an electronic derailleur and a drafty shed:

I’m assuming the bike’s owner is Ewan McTeagle:

Someone really should lend him the money to mend that shed…

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